Rams put it all together to win the Super Bowl
February 17, 2022
Priceless! The Los Angeles Rams 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, was well-worth the six-year effort since owner Stan Kroenke brought the team back to Southern California. It was worth more than the multi-billion dollars he has invested into the Los Angeles area. It was for the players, the coaches, the front office and more importantly... for the fans who have waited since 1967 for the team to win its first Super Bowl in Los Angeles.
"It's amazing. Just really proud of this group. Sean and Les and Kevin and Tony and all the guys. So happy for them. Then you talk about these players, Matthew and Andrew and Von," said Rams Owner Stan Kroenke, who accepted the Vince Lombardi Trophy from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Right after the game.
True to this season's playoff form, the Rams won the game in dramatic fashion with a one-two punch in the final minutes. First, with the team needing a touchdown on their last drive of the game, quarterback Matthew Stafford moved the Rams 79 yards in 15 plays, ending with a one-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cooper Kupp to retake the final lead with 1:25 remaining in regulation.
The knockout blow was delivered moments later by the NFL's best player in consecutive plays. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald made a one-armed tackle on third-and-one at midfield to deny Bengals running back Samaje Perine a critical first down with 43 seconds on the clock. Donald grasped victory on the very next play when he threw Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to the ground like a rag doll. Burrow flung the ball to the turf in desperation while the Rams and their fans started the grand celebration.
"We made it just a third down stop and for fourth down I thought there was a run," said Donald, who many believed was the Most Valuable Player of the game. "They dropped back to pass, and we found a way to get the chop club to be able to bend, and find a way to get the quarterback to make him throw an errant pass. I actually tried to get the ball out and he kind of tossed it up. We were a little nervous at first but it was a huge play."
Rams head coach Sean McVay doubled-down on Kroenke's words during the trophy presentation, a few yards away from the word RAMS painted in large blue letters across the south end zone: "It feels outstanding. You talk about a resilient team. Coaches, players, I'm so proud of this group.
"Just proud to be associated with it. We talk about competitive greatness all the time. Being your best when your best is required. For the offense to be able to find a way and then Aaron to be able to finish it off. It's poetic, man."
Cooper Kupp, the 2021 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, accepted the Super Bowl LVI Most Valuable Player trophy. "It just came down to this team, the way we prepared. The way we loved on each other, trusted each other. I don't feel deserving of this. I just so thankful for the guys I get to be around. For the coaches, for my family... I don't know what to say."
Kupp finished the game with eight receptions on 10 targets for 92 total yards and two touchdowns. His receiver rating of 144.6 was just shy of teammate Odell Beckham, Jr., who had a 149.3 rating on two catches for 52 yards. Unfortunately for the Rams, Beckham injured his knee on a non-contact play attempting to catch a pass with 3:50 to play in the first half. He never returned and his absence completely changed the nature of the game.
Trailing 13-10 at halftime, the Bengals got an officiating break on the first play of the third quarter when Burrow connected with wide receiver Tee Higgins for a 75-yard touchdown. However, replays showed that Higgins grabbed Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey by the face mask and threw him to the ground just before making a remarkable catch. There was no call and the Bengals took a 17-13 lead.
Disaster seemed to strike the Rams on the next play from scrimmage when wide receiver Ben Skowronek tipped Stafford's intended pass to Bengal cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, who intercepted the ball at the L.A. 32-yard line. That's when Donald made his first sack of Burrow in the second half to force Cincinnati into a 38-yard field goal by Evan McPherson, keeping the game to a one-possession lead at 20-13. The Bengals never scored again.
The Rams immediately drove 52 yards, setting up a 41-yard field goal by Matt Gay at 6:02 of the third quarter. Neither team scored for the next 19 minutes and 43 seconds until Stafford's game-winning touchdown pass to Kupp. The final drive appeared to be in trouble several times, but Kupp came through in multiple ways.
He made a game-deciding first down on 7-yard jet sweep run on fourth-and-one from the L.A. 30-yard line. With the Rams facing third-and-goal at the Bengals' 8-yard line, he forced a holding call that gave the Rams first down at the one-yard line. Two plays later he forced a Bengal pass interference call on cornerback Eli Apple. Two plays later he caught the game-winning pass.
Kupp on the game-clinching catch, "We had a little run alert in. If we get the look, I think we ended up getting a zero on that one. We were able to alert things I learned and throw a little fade ball. That inside leverage, so I just try to weave to his (cornerback Eli Apple) leverage and make him move in a little bit, jab him one time and be able to just give Matthew some room to put the ball wherever he wanted to, and he made a great back shoulder throw."
McVay reiterated, "We were able to go tempo. Kind of regulated them and to be able to play some zones and a lot of third down situations they were kind of doubling him (Kupp), especially once Odell went out. But Matthew and Cooper made the most of their opportunities in the most important and critical times."
"And then for A.D. (Aaron Donald) to be able to finish it up when they went in the gun on the fourth down situation. He had his opportunity and he delivered in a big way and he's a World Champion... Our team stepped up in the most crucial and critical moments. I can't say enough about how much I love this group. They played for one another. There's something really powerful about being a part of something bigger than yourself."
Winning Super Bowl LVI in the House That Stan Built was a dream come true with an exclamation. It's very easy to imagine that Kroenke envisioned having his Los Angeles Rams win the NFL Championship in the first season that the Super Bowl was held in SoFi Stadium, a reward for his everlasting gift to Los Angeles and Southern California.
He hoisted the Lombardi Trophy at his very own SoFi Stadium on Sunday night. "A tough game. Just so proud of them executing the at the end like they did. And so, as far as building the stadium, I think it turned out alright. Thanks to the great fans of Los Angeles. Their first Super Bowl trophy... in the Rams House," said Kroenke.